The BLC Blog

A forum and learning place for British Language Centre students

Monday, May 31, 2010

Word of the Week - 76

This week's word is a colloquial noun which is used to describe something that needs a lot of effort or which causes slight problems.

Making your own pasta is a bit of a faff so I always buy it ready-made.

It can also be used as a verb to mean spend too much time doing something unimportant or unnecessary instead of doing the things you should be doing.

Stop faffing about and do your homework!
John has been faffing around with the car all day.

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Friday, May 28, 2010

What's the Difference - 8


ON TIME - means at the planned time; neither early nor late. Punctual.

It's always important to arrive on time to an interview if you want to make a good impression.
A typical stereotype about Spanish people is that they never arrive on time!

IN TIME - means with enough time to spare; before the last moment.

The man would have died if the ambulance hadn't got him to the hospital in time.
My car broke down on the motorway but luckily I got to the airport just in time to catch my flight!

BY THE TIME - means before the time that is specified.

I hope to be living in Santander by the time I am 40. (before I have my 40th birthday)
You'd better have cleaned the bathroom by the time I get home!

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Expression of the Fortnight - 17


This expression reflects a theatrical superstition where it is seen as bad luck to wish an actor good luck before he / she goes on the stage. Although it is more commonly used in theatre, it is also used more and more outside the theatre as superstitions and customs spread.

I thought since the Cambridge exams were coming up, I would take this opportunity to tell the students who are sitting an examination this June to Break a leg!

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Word of the Week - 75


This week's word is a very useful noun which can be used to make other compound nouns. A case is a container or box for storing things in. You can mix it with other nouns to make a wide variety of cases.

A suitcase is a type of bag that you fill with clothes when you go on holiday.
A briefcase is a type of bag that you keep work papers and documents in.
A pencil case is where you store your stationery when you go to school.
A bookcase is a piece of furniture with shelves where you keep books.
A pillowcase is a fabric cover for the pillows (almohadas) on your bed.
A glasses case is a small box for storing spectacles.
A guitar case is the box you keep your guitar in.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Word of the Week - 74

This week's word can be a verb and a noun. As a verb it means to write or draw something quickly or carelessly. As a noun it refers to the product of writing or drawing quickly or carelessly.

My son has scribbled all over my new wallpaper! Thank goodness those pens have washable ink!

I hope you can read my scribble! I wrote it in a rush this morning.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Expression of the Fortnight - 16

to give something a shot

If you are prepared to give something a shot that means that you are willing to make an attempt to do something. If you give something your best shot it means that you are going to do your very best to achieve something.

I'm not really sure if it will work but I'm going to give it my best shot.
I've never played golf before but I'm going to give it a shot.
I'd like to give parachuting a shot.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Word of the Week -73


This week's word is a noun that is used to describe the sudden period of anger that a young child shows when they don't get what they want. It is most common in young children but some famous sportsmen have also been known to throw the odd tantrum. The American tennis-player John McEnroe was famous for his tennis tantrums. In fact, he appears in the film Anger Management with Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler poking fun at his reputation! Youtube has some funny videos of McEnroe at his angry best.
The noun collocates with the verbs 'have' and 'throw'.
James threw a tantrum in the supermarket because I wouldn't buy him any sweets.
As I am writing this, my baby boy is having a tantrum on my lap because he wants to type and I won't let him.

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What's the Difference ? - 7

in the end / at the end / at last

At the end - when you use the preposition 'at' you are thinking about a specific point in time or a particular place.
At the end of the book they get married.
I'll wait for you at the end of the street.
I get paid at the end of the month.
There are also some set expressions using 'at the end':
At the end of the day
There's light at the end of the tunnel
At the end of one's tether
In the end - is used to mean finally or eventually, after something has been thought about, planned or discussed a lot.
We were thinking about going to Switzerland, but in the end we went to Austria.
In the end all that matters is that you're happy.
Everything will be alright in the end.
At (long) last - is used to mean finally when something ends or happens after a lot of waiting or working.
I've finished my essay at last!
Look, it's stopped raining at last!
At long last the government is starting to listen to our problems.

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Monday, May 3, 2010

Word of the Week - 72


This week's word is an noun which I have taken from a news report from the BBC Learning English website. The word can be used in two ways. It can be used to refer to trees that are grown so that their wood can be used specifically for building material and it can be used to refer directly to the wood that is used for building. In American English this would be referred to as lumber and the person who chops down the trees to get the wood for building is called a lumberjack.

These trees are being grown for timber.
This is a timber forest.

And from the article I was reading...

There is an increased demand for food and timber.

To read the whole article follow this link >>>

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Expression of the Fortnight - 15

This fortnight's expression came up in class when one of my students was paying me a compliment. I wondered if my student had an ulterior motive for being so nice to me. I asked her if she was trying to butter me up! To butter somebody up is to be very kind or friendly to them or try to please them in some way so that they will do what you want them to do. Buttering somebody up is a way of manipulating them.
You'll have to butter her up a bit if you want her to agree to that!

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Word of the Week - 71


This week's word of the week was one of the solutions from a crossword I was doing - (those of you who know me will be aware that I'm partial to a good cryptic crossword). The word is an adjective which is used to describe how you feel when you are slightly hungry and would like a little something to eat. 'Rather' and 'a bit' are often placed before this adjective.

I'm feeling a bit peckish, can we go and get a bite to eat?

Even though I've had a huge breakfast and it's only ten o' clock, I have to admit that I'm feeling rather peckish.

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Friday, April 23, 2010

British Cuisine - Fish 'n' Chips

Ok, so it's the stereotypical dish all people mention when they think about food in the UK. Students often say it with a look of disgust on their face and a tone of sarcasm in their voices as if to imply that it isn't really food. And while it is true that fish 'n' chips are quintessentially British, that does not mean to say that it is not a good dish.
Although fish 'n' chips can be ordered in most pubs from the lunch menu, and there are world -famous fish and chip restaurants such as Harry Ramsden's, this meal originated in the UK as a take-away food some time in the late 1850s. And, I personally believe the best way to enjoy fish and chips is at the seaside sitting on or by the beach. Great places to eat fish 'n' chips are Whitby or Scarborough where cod is often caught fresh from the sea and cooked the same day.
Traditionally the fish (usually cod, haddock or flounder) and chips were wrapped up in newspaper to be carried away and eaten at home or in the park. Nowadays, due to hygiene and possible problems from the newspaper ink - they are wrapped in plain white paper. The shop where fish and chips can be purchased is colloquially known as the chippy or the chipper, depending on the region.
So, before you turn your nose up at them, why not try eating some real fish and chips by the sea in England. It's quite an experience!

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Spot the Mistake

Walking around Madrid these past few days I have noticed some adverts promoting bilingual schools in the city. There are posters on the backs of buses, posters in the bus stops, billboards, and even spots on the TV and radio. I find it rather appalling that adverts for bilingual Spanish and English schools contain such a blatant grammatical error! I don't care if they are trying to play on the Obama slogan - it's just wrong! Surely the Communidad de Madrid has enough money to pay for some proper translators?! Can you spot the mistake and correct it?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Word of the Week - 70


This word of the week is related to last week's word in the way that it is used to refer to a person when you cannot remember or you do not know their name. In informal English -whatsisname or what's-his-name is used for men and whatsername or what's-her-name is used for women.

Have you invited Paul Whatisname to the party?

Give the file to whatsername - the new woman in Accounts.

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